FLORENCE KATHERINE (FOLKS) MOORE
DOB – February 11, 1915, Ashland Kansas
The Marine Corps was the last of the services to open its ranks to women in World War ll. During the last months of World War l some 305 women had been enlisted for clerical duties and coyly called “Marinettes”. A Women’s Reserve was authorized in November 1942 but not publicly announced until February 1943. The goal of a thousand women officers and 18,000 women enlisted, all volunteers, was set and nearly met. By the end of the war 820 officers and 17,640 enlisted “WMs” were serving in noncombatant billets, mostly clerical, and not west of Pearl Harbor. The nearly twenty thousand women who served in the Corps during World War II freed enough men from non-combatant service to form the 6th Marine Division.
Florence enlisted at Chicago, Illinois on 24th day of April, 1943. She was sworn into the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. There was not a boot camp for women then, so she had to go to Hunter College, Bronx, New York, for six weeks Hunter College for basic training. Hunter College was taken over by the Navy to train the WMs.
After basic training she was sent to Camp Lejeune, New River, North Carolina, for mess duty for 31 days. After mess duty the WMs were able to choose which school they would like to go to. Florence chose the school for Link Trainers at the Naval Air Station, Atlanta, Georgia. Link Trainers are small airplanes that the pilots used for training. She was unable to pass the training and had to choose another school. She was then transferred to the Division of Aviation Headquarters, Washington, D. C.
Florence wanted to help the blind because she was teaching blind children in Wisconsin, before enlisting, on how to use brail. There was nothing available for the blind so she was sent as a Training Film Librarian to Aviation Women Reserve Group 1, Squadron 18, USMC Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. Florence ran the projectors for training the pilots. She went on to organize the film library on the second floor of the building.
Florence did not have to go to work on this particular Saturday, June 3, 1944, but she had a friend that was working so she went to work also. There was a fire on the 1st floor of the building but no one notified the 2nd floor of the fire. Everyone on the 2nd floor was trained for a fire but they didn’t know that a fire was on the 1st floor. Someone on the 2nd floor opened the door to the stairway and saw the fire and alerted everyone. By this time the stairwells at both ends of the building were on fire. Everyone was told to get on the floor because of the smoke. There was a door to the balcony that opened in instead of out. In their frantic hurry to get out they could not get the door to open out. A man came and opened the door and pushed Florence and her friend out onto the balcony. Florence remembers she and her friend would not move out the door until the man pushed them out onto the balcony. There were 7 killed in the fire.
Florence spent a month at the Cherry Point dispensary and sent on to the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland for plastic surgery on her hands and arms. The doctor thought they should do surgery because if not they may get cancer. She spent the rest of her tour in Bethesda doing skin grafts and rehab. Instead of waiting around with nothing to do she found a job in the hospital working with the blind and brain damaged troops returning from overseas. She was able teach some of the blind how to type. One man was missing both hands and had hooks instead. Florence figured out how by putting different colored stickers on the keys that he was able to learn how to type. This is where Florence met her future husband that had been a POW by the Japanese and suffered through the Bataan Death March.
Even though the records show she was born in Ashland, Kansas when she was injured in the fire word went out to Ashland, Wisconsin instead. Her parents did not know she was injured until sometime later.
Florence received an Honorable discharge on 23 November 1945 with the highest rank of Sergeant. She was discharged at the Separation Company, Henderson Hall, Arlington, Virginia. Her monthly rate of pay at discharge was $78.00. Her travel allowance was at a rate of $.05 a mile.
Florence has lived in Alabama but, most of her life she lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Florence now resides at Latter Days Assisted Living, Santaquin, Utah. She walks everyday with a walker to keep limbered up. She is of sound mind and is reasonably healthy. Her affairs and needs are taken care of by her nephew and family, Ernestine and Ray Folks (also a Marine) of Elk Ridge, Utah.
Florence has been entered into The Women in Military Service Memorial at Washington D.C. Also, Florence is on the Military Honor Roll on a permanent Kiosk exhibit at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library at Abilene, Kansas.
Written by Ray Folks,
Nephew of Florence Moore
ONCE A MARINE ALWAYS A MARINE!!!!